NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2023

Check out the latest on Kevin Hayes, Anton Khudobin, Tuukka Rask and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues head coach Craig Berube believes Kevin Hayes will bring experienced help at the center-ice position to his team. The 31-year-old forward was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers in July.

Berube noted that Hayes played well during his tenure with the New York Rangers, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. “He’s a good player with the puck, he makes plays,” said Berube. “Big, he’s got good size. When he was with the Rangers, he was killing penalties, he was a faceoff guy. He was really good at the dot. There’s a lot of upside there that he can really help us.”

St. Louis Blues center Kevin Hayes (NHL Images).

Hayes averaged 20 goals and 30 assists per 82 games during his four seasons with the Flyers. Despite a 54-point performance last season (including a team-leading 36 assists), he was a healthy scratch at times under coach John Tortorella and spent some time as a left wing. His production dropped to seven points in his final 28 games with the Flyers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are hoping that Hayes will improve in St. Louis and bolster their depth at center after trading away Ryan O’Reilly last season. He carries a $7.1 million cap hit through 2025-26 but the Flyers retained half of that. The Blues only gave up a 2024 sixth-round pick to get him. This could turn into a steal for the Blues if Hayes regains the form that earned him that lucrative contract.

DAILY FACEOFF: Anton Khudobin signed a contract with Sokol Krasnoyarsk in Russia’s second-tier VHL. The 37-year-old goaltender spent most of last season with the AHL’s Texas Stars. Traded to the Chicago Blackhawks before the March 3 trade deadline, he made his last NHL appearance on March 23, giving up six goals on 28 shots.

Before that, Khudobin had a well-earned reputation as a reliable backup goaltender with the Minnesota Wild, Carolina Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks, and Dallas Stars. His most memorable performance occurred during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs as he backstopped the Stars to the Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin struggled following the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season. A nagging hip injury led to season-ending surgery in March 2022 requiring a six-month recovery period.

In 260 NHL games played, he had a regular-season record of 114 wins, 92 losses and 33 overtime losses with a 2.52 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage and 11 shutouts. He also had a record of 14-10-0 in 24 playoff starts with a 2.63 GAA, a .919 SP and one shutout.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask recently denied a long-standing rumor that he missed the last game of the 2015-16 season due to a hangover from drinking at a Boston pub the night before.

Rask was actually sidelined by a stomach virus and was replaced in that game by Jonas Gustavsson. The Bruins fell to the Ottawa Senators 6-1 and missed the playoffs.

In a recent interview with the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast, Rask said that the rumor was started by a former bartender at the pub. The former Vezina Trophy winner said he was there five days beforehand but not the night before that crucial game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask was among the NHL’s elite goaltenders during most of his tenure in Boston. He holds the Bruins’ record for career wins with 308, backstopping them to two Stanley Cup Finals and winning a Cup as Tim Thomas’ backup in 2011. Nevertheless, he never really got his just due from some Bruins fans during his 15-season NHL career.

LA HOCKEY INSIDER: The Los Angeles Kings enter this season with the second-lowest payroll invested in goaltending. They have three goalies with NHL experience in Cam Talbot, Pheonix Copley and David Rittich. It’s expected that Talbot and Copley will be their main tandem to start the seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goaltending is the Kings’ potential Achilles’ heel this season. Don’t be surprised if general manager Rob Blake goes shopping for an upgrade at some point if Talbot, Copley and Rittich struggle between the pipes.

DAILY FACEOFF: Highly-touted Philadelphia Flyers prospect Matvei Michkov was a healthy scratch from SKA St. Petersburg’s first two games in the new KHL season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some on social media are pointing to this as justification for why Michkov dropped to seventh overall in this year’s draft. That’s as may be but it’s still very early in the 18-year-old winger’s career. He won’t be making his NHL debut for three more seasons so there’s plenty of time for him to develop and improve as a professional in the KHL.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2023

Check out the latest on Blake Wheeler, Marc Staal, Cam Talbot and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

WINNIPEG SUN: Former Jets winger Blake Wheeler had nothing but good things to say about his former club, the city of Winnipeg and Jets fans during his introductory meeting with the New York media on Monday.

Blake Wheeler signed a one-year contract with the New York Rangers (NHL Images).

Wheeler, 36, signed a one-year contract with the Rangers on Saturday a day after the Jets bought out the final year of his contract. He was the Jets’ longest-serving player, having moved with the club from Atlanta to Winnipeg in 2011. He is their franchise leader in games played (897), assists (550) and points (812).

I have nothing but gratitude to that city and organization and that fan base…I’m really proud to leave on great terms.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler handled his departure from the Jets quite well. In time, the franchise will likely honor his accomplishments once his playing career is over.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers signed defenseman Marc Staal to a one-year, 35-plus contract worth $1.1 million. General manager Daniel Briere said the 36-year-old was brought in to add a veteran presence for their younger players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal was the most notable of a quiet day of contract signings with just 14 players inking new deals on Monday. Blame the combination of a flattened salary cap and a free-agent pool already short on big-name talent when the market opened on July 1.

LA HOCKEY NOW: Cam Talbot said he’s excited about playing again for Kings coach Todd McLellan. The 35-year-old goaltender’s best seasons were when he played for McLellan with the Edmonton Oilers. He indicated that was a big selling point in convincing him to sign a one-year, 35-plus contract with the Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goaltending was considered a prime issue for the Kings to address this summer. Talbot’s age and recent injury history hampered his performance over the past two years. He will be paired with Pheonix Copley as the Kings’ goalie tandem to start the season.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Drouin is looking forward to a fresh start with the Avalanche after a difficult six-year tenure with the Montreal Canadiens. The 28-year-old winger was hampered by injuries and personal issues during his time with the Habs. He signed a one-year, $825K contract with the Avalanche, reuniting him with his friend and former Junior teammate Nathan MacKinnon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid performance with the Avs this season will help Drouin get his flagging NHL career back on track. It remains to be seen if he’ll be skating alongside MacKinnon but just being his teammate again could have a positive effect on Drouin’s game.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings yesterday placed Filip Zadina on waivers. General manager Steve Yzerman said the move was made after attempting to trade the 23-year-old winger. Yzerman indicated Zadina’s agent has approached him before the draft asking for a trade to provide his client with an opportunity for a fresh start elsewhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sixth-overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, Zadina has struggled to play up to expectations as a scoring winger. His best performance thus far was a 24-point effort in 74 games during the 2021-22 campaign. He’s signed through 2024-25 and could remain with the Wings if he clears waivers at noon ET today.

Notable NHL Moves For July 1, 2023

Notable NHL Moves For July 1, 2023

Check in regularly for today’s notable player moves during the opening day of the NHL’s annual free-agent market.

New York Islander sign goaltender Semyon Varlamov to a four-year, $11 million contract. 

Detroit Red Wings sign center J.T. Compher to a five-year, $25.5 million contract.

New York Islanders sign Scott Mayfield to a seven-year, $24.5 million contract. 

Seattle Kraken signed Brian Dumoulin to a two-year, $6.3 million contract.

Colorado Avalanche signs Jonathan Drouin to a one-year, $825K contract.

Pittsburgh Penguins sign Lars Eller to a two-year, $4.9 million contract.

New York Islanders sign Pierre Engvall to a seven-year, $21 million contract. 

Colorado Avalanche sign winger Miles Wood to a six-year, $15 million contract. 

Pittsburgh Penguins sign defenseman Ryan Graves to a six-year, $27 million contract. 

Pittsburgh Penguins bring back goaltender Tristan Jarry on a five-year, $28.875 million contract.

Anaheim Ducks sign Alex Killorn to a four-year, $25 million contract. 

Arizona Coyotes sign Jason Zucker to a one-year, $5.3 million contract. 

Detroit Red Wings sign Daniel Sprong to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Dallas Stars sign Matt Duchene to a one-year, $3 million contract

Tampa Bay Lightning sign Conor Sheary to a three-year $6 million contract. 

Boston Bruins sign defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to a one-year, $1 million contract. 

Nashville Predators sign forward Gustav Nyquist to a two-year, $6.37 million contract. 

Detroit Red Wings sign defenseman Justin Holl to a three-year, $10.20 million contract. 

Washington Capitals sign Max Pacioretty to a one-year, $2 million contract.

Vancouver Canucks sign Carson Soucy to a three-year, $9.75 million contract. 

Nashville Predators sign Ryan O’Reilly to a four-year, $18 million contract. 

Carolina Hurricanes sign defenseman Dmitry Orlov to a two-year. $7.75 million contract. 

Carolina Hurricanes bring back goaltender Frederik Andersen on a two-year, $6.8 million contract. 

Ottawa Senators sign goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to a five-year, $20 million contract.

Buffalo Sabres sign defenseman Erik Johnson to a one-year, $3.25 million contract. 

Edmonton Oilers sign winger Connor Brown to a one-year, $4 million contract. 

Anaheim Ducks sign defenseman Radko Gudas to a three-year, $12 million contract. 

San Jose Sharks sign goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood to a two-year $4.7 million contract. 

New York Rangers sign right wing Blake Wheeler to a one-year, $800K salary plus $300K max bonuses.

Boston Bruins sign left wing James van Riemsdyk to a one-year, $1 million contract. 

Boston Bruins sign winger Milan Lucic to a one-year, $1 million contract. 

Los Angeles Kings sign Cam Talbot to a one-year, $1 million contract.

Montreal Canadiens traded defenseman Joel Edmundson to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick and a seventh-rounder in the 2024 NHL draft.  The Canadiens are retaining 50 percent of his cap hit.

Nashville Predator sign Luke Schenn to a three-year contract with an AAV of $2.75 million

Florida Panthers sign defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to a one-year, $2.25 million contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs sign forward Ryan Reaves to a three-year contract with an AAV of $1.3 million.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2023

What will the Senators do with Alex DeBrincat? Should the Red Wings pursue him? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes noted a lot of Senators fans and media were concerned over what they considered Alex DeBrincat’s lukewarm answers on Friday regarding his future in Ottawa.

Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).

Mendes indicated that DeBrincat told him that he enjoyed playing and living in Ottawa but wants some time to figure out his future. The 25-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer who’s also a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has indicated his club will submit the $9 million qualifying offer to DeBrincat by the June 25 deadline. The winger’s camp has until July 15 to accept it. If they don’t, he remains a restricted free agent and his rights still belong to the Senators for 2023-24.

Mendes believes the Senators hope to negotiate a long-term contract for DeBrincat with an average annual value of less than $9 million. However, they could consider trading him if he’s only interested in accepting his qualifying offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch believes DeBrincat could be traded by the opening round of this 2023 Draft in Nashville in late June. We’ll likely know by mid-June how this situation will play out.

Turning to the Senators’ goaltending, Mendes doesn’t see pending UFA Cam Talbot returning. He believes they need to aggressively target a proven goalie for next season.

The UFA market is thin with Joonas Korpisalo, Tristan Jarry, Jonathan Quick and Frederik Andersen carrying significant questions. Mendes suggested they package some younger pieces to land a netminder via trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch recently reported Dorion sniffed around for a goalie before the trade deadline but Talbot was healthy and promising Mads Sogaard was solid through late February. With Talbot likely a goner and Sogaard possibly heading to the AHL next season, Dorion could be active in this summer’s trade market.


DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Bob Duff examined the pros and cons of the Red Wings pursuing DeBrincat. He noted that Wings GM Steve Yzerman and head coach Derek Lalonde last week indicated their team needed more scoring.

Acquiring a two-time 40-goal scorer like DeBrincat would fill that need for the Red Wings. He’s also a native of Farmington Hills, Michigan, leading Duff to wonder if he’d be open to a homecoming.

The downside is the 5’8”, 178-pound DeBrincat would be adding another small forward to a team already on the small side. There’s also his contract situation making him a risky acquisition unless he agrees to an extension as part of the deal. Duff wondered how he’d feel about joining yet another rebuilding team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings have the depth in tradeable assets to make a tempting offer to the Senators. They also have the cap space to sign him to a lucrative long-term contract.

Whether they’re willing to make that kind of major deal, however, is another matter. They’ll also have to outbid several other teams that will certainly have an interest in DeBrincat, especially given the lack of young talent in this year’s UFA market.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan recently noted Yzerman’s comments indicating he’ll look to the free-agent market to bolster the Wings’ offense. The Wings GM acknowledged the lack of depth in this summer’s market and how it will likely get thinner when some of those players re-sign with their current teams.

Khan speculated Yzerman could also go the trade route. He pointed out the Wings have accumulated a lot of draft capital to use as trade chips, including two first-round picks and three second-rounders in this year’s draft, and two second-rounders next year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman has mostly eschewed making big trades apart from shipping Anthony Mantha to Washington at the 2021 deadline for Jakub Vrana and draft picks. That was a trade that initially looked good for both clubs but ultimately turned into a stinker.

However, Yzerman might not have much choice if this summer’s UFA market gets depleted quickly. Someone like the Senators’ DeBrincat could prove to be a tempting trade target.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 15, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – April 15, 2023

Could trading Alex DeBrincat be among some notable offseason changes for the Senators? Will the Flames consider moving Elias Lindholm or Mikael Backlund? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Alex DeBrincat is non-committal about a contract extension with the Senators. The 25-year-old winger said he’s “definitely open to anything” but he intends to discuss his future with his family and his agent.

Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).

Garrioch believes that “doesn’t exactly scream that DeBrincat wants to be in Ottawa long-term, but the Senators need to find out one way or another before the NHL Draft in Nashville in June.”

TSN: Garrioch believes Senators general manager Pierre Dorion could look at trading DeBrincat if a long-term extension hasn’t been agreed to by the draft. He indicated that there have been no substantial discussions between Dorion and the DeBrincat camp.

Doiron indicated the Senators intended to make DeBrincat a $9 million qualifying offer even if there isn’t an extension in place. A restricted free agent this summer, the winger is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrincat didn’t close the door on a contract extension but his comments certainly don’t sound encouraging. I can’t see Dorion hanging onto him for another season in the vain hope of changing his mind only to lose him for nothing to next summer’s free-agent market.

Dorion looks foolish for not ensuring DeBrincat would sign an extension last summer before acquiring him from the Chicago Blackhawks. The Senators gave up three draft picks in that trade, including last year’s seventh-overall selection. That trade will have blown up in Dorion’s face if DeBrincat merely accepts the qualifying offer with the intent of testing the free-agent market in 2024.

However, the Senators GM can salvage this situation if he can get a solid return in a DeBrincat trade that provides immediate roster help. He’ll likely seek a comparable player rather than a top prospect or a first-round pick as the centerpiece of such a deal. DeBrincat could draw considerable interest given that most of the big names in this summer’s UFA market are past their prime.

Garrioch believes goaltender Cam Talbot and winger Austin Watson won’t be back. Both are pending UFAs this summer. Defenseman Nick Holden was informed by Dorion that he won’t be re-signed.

In an earlier column, Garrioch wrote that goaltending is the biggest need for the Senators to address this summer. He also felt that winger Alex Formenton should be traded if he isn’t brought back. He spent the season playing in Switzerland after he and the Senators failed to reach an agreement on a new contract.

Speaking of Dorion, Ken Warren believes it’s not a certainty he and head coach D.J. Smith will be back next season with new ownership expected to take over the club in the coming weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be interesting to see what happens to the front office and coaching staff once the sale of the Senators is completed. The new owner could keep them intact to evaluate the club’s performance next season. Then again, perhaps they’ll come in looking to make sweeping changes in the management office and behind the bench.


TSN/CALGARY SUN: Salim Valji and Wes Gilbertson reported Mikael Backlund and Elias Lindholm sounded non-committal about re-signing with the Calgary Flames by next summer. Both forwards are slated to become unrestricted free agents in July 2024 along with winger Tyler Toffoli and defensemen Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov.

Backlund, 34, said he loved Calgary and the Flames but he wants to win the Stanley Cup, adding he didn’t know what would happen if the club makes a contract extension offer this summer. Gilbertson noted Backlund’s long pause before answering a question about an extension raised eyebrows.

Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Lindholm replied, “We’ll see what happens. I’ve got one more year. Gotta look at it that way. I have one more year and that’s all I can say.” Gilbertson doesn’t feel that’s a “bring-me-a-pen proclamation”.

Valji noted that Zadorov and Toffoli were more upbeat as they expressed a willingness to get something done regarding their contracts. They also praised head coach Darryl Sutter, whose handling of the roster sparked questions among fans and media over his relationship with the players.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Randy Sportak suggested the comments coming from the Flames’ top two centers could force the club to finally bite the bullet and consider a roster rebuild. He believes it’ll be difficult to retain all their pending UFAs even if Toffoli, Zadorov, Tanev and Hanifin expressed a desire to stay.

A tough decision would be moving some of those veterans to retool the organization rather than stage a full rebuild like the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks. A tougher one would be stripping it down.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportak raises a good point that the Flames face a crossroads this season. They could keep everyone and hope for a bounce-back performance next season. Over the long run, however, a veteran-laden team can be a drain on the salary cap and make it difficult to make room for younger talent.

Much will depend on the fate of general manager Brad Treliving, whose contract expires at the end of this season. Treliving invested heavily in this roster and could be reluctant to retool if he stays on the job. If he and the Flames part ways, his replacement could opt to shake things up.

As I’ve said before, we could be seeing another summer of change in Calgary.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 9, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 9, 2023

Kevin Hayes could be facing his final days with the Flyers while it appears Cam Talbot’s time with the Senators has drawn to a close. Check out the latest in the Easter Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor recently reported Kevin Hayes has acknowledged that his time with the Philadelphia Flyers might be on the verge of ending. “Yeah. They’re in a rebuild,” said Hayes. “So they’ve got to make decisions that they want to make.”

Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes (NHL Images).

Hayes, 30, noted that his role with the club has changed this season. He’s seen his ice time reduced as head coach John Tortorella evaluates the younger players on the roster. “They’re building for the future. You can see who’s part of it and who isn’t,” he said.

O’Connor noted that Hayes and Tortorella haven’t seen eye-to-eye this season. He also pointed out that the Flyers coach will play a major collaborative role with new general manager Daniel Briere in shaping the roster.

Around the trade deadline, Tortorella didn’t rule out the possibility of Hayes playing elsewhere in the near future. However, the veteran forward reiterated his preference to stay in Philadelphia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haye’s contract gives him some leverage if the Flyers hope to trade him. He’s carrying a $7.14 million average annual value through 2025-26 which will be difficult to move, especially if the salary cap only rises by $1 million this summer. Hayes also has a 12-team no-trade clause.

The Flyers could be forced to retain part of Hayes’ cap hit to make his contract more enticing in the trade market. Their other option is to take back a comparable salary. They could also buy him out but they’d be facing six years with dead cap space on their books.

As for destinations, there were rumors following the trade deadline claiming the Flyers had talked with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes. Whether any groundwork was laid for a summer trade with either club remains to be seen.


OTTAWA SUN: That’s the opinion of Bruce Garrioch after Senators head coach D.J. Smith went with the tandem of Leevi Merilainen and Mads Sogaard for Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers.

Talbot, 35, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent. He’s not expected to be re-signed by the Senators, who acquired him last summer after he posted a 32-12-14 record last season with the Minnesota Wild.

Injuries and inconsistency plagued Talbot this season, appearing in 35 games and being sidelined for 30 others. The Senators were willing to sign him to a one-year deal at a substantial pay cut from his current $3.66 million AAV but his camp reportedly sought a two-year extension for considerably more money.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if the Senators stick entirely with their young goalies next season or try to add an experienced veteran via trade or free agency. As for Talbot, he’s not going to find any two-year contracts for more than $3.66 million annually on the open market given his age and injury history. He could end up regretting not accepting the Senators’ offer.